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Configuring Thunderbird

(Last tested on Version 17.0.3)



  • If prompted with the "Would you like a new email address" wizard, choose Skip this and use my existing email
  • At "Mail Account Setup":
    • Your name: Your full name as you want it to appear on your outgoing messages
    • Email address: $
    • Password: Your CSAIL IMAP password
  • Click "Continue", then "Done."
  • If prompted to "set defaults", we recommend making Thunderbird the default client for email.

Manual Configuration Settings

  • Incoming
    • Server Name:
    • Port: 143
    • Connection Security: STARTTLS
    • Authentication Method: Encrypted Password
  • Outgoing
    • Server Name:
    • Port: 587
    • Connection Security: STARTTLS
    • Authentication Method: Encrypted Password

Checking and sending mail

  • Thunderbird will check automatically.
  • We suggest sending a test message to yourself as well.


  • Problem:
    • During setup, you see Certificate Status: Unknown Identity and are prompted to Confirm Security Exception, or
    • It was working yesterday, but today you see Unknown Identity as above, possibly preceded by "Secure Connection Failed".
  • Explanation: Our mail servers use security certificates signed by CSAIL. Thunderbird doesn't consult Firefox, Keychain Access, or other standard places to see whether CSAIL should be trusted.
  • Solution:
    1. Download the CSAIL Master CA to your desktop (right-click on the link and choose "Save Link As")
    2. Back in Thunderbird, navigate to Tools -> Options [Mac: Edit -> Preferences] -> Advanced -> Certificates -> View Certificates -> Authorities, and click Import
    3. Choose Desktop -> master.cer and click "Open", then check YES to all 3 "Trust" boxes.
    4. Click "OK" three times (back to the main window)
    5. Click "Get Mail" to receive mail

Optional steps

Folder view: If the ordering of folders in the left panel seems odd, try clicking the > arrow next to "Smart Folders" until it reads "All Folders". Then expand "$" and "Inbox".

User database auto-completion: See LDAP Directory Lookup

-- ArthurProkosch - 17 May 2010
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Topic revision: 06 Mar 2013, JasonDorfman

MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory


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